# Rice cookers

I have a rice cooker. I love my rice cooker. Put in rice, water, and salt, slap the lid on, and turn the switch to Cook and concentrate on preparing the rest of the meal - and about twenty minutes later, the switch goes PING! and switches back to Keep Warm. The rice inside has never turned out to be anything less than perfectly cooked.

But what mechanism drives this magic appliance? How does it now when the rice is ready? I don’t think this is as simple as a timer, since it copes with a little too much or a little too little water, but I can’t figure out what else it could be.

If you have one of the standard, inexpensive rice cookers, the mechanism is really simple. Water boils at a certain temp (I’m gonna sound like a moron, but it’s what, 212 degrees farenheit, right?). Until all the water has been absorbed, the rice/water mixture stays at 212 degrees. So the rice cooker just measures the temperature and shuts off the cooking at 212 degrees. (Just like when you’re blow drying your hair and can tell a section is done because it starts to heat up.)

My rice cooker is one of thos state-of-the-art fuzzy logic microprocessor type cookers from Japan. I’m not totally sure how it works but I think it may be a more sophisticated version of the above. I think it may be able to sense when portions of the rice is cooked and shut off heat to that part. But, I’m just guessing on that one…

tremorviolet is correct. The water you’ve added heats to boiling and simmers until it’s been absorbed by the rice or steamed away (Rice cookers always have a hole in the lid). When it does, the temp rises above boiling and the seonsor trips, putting the heater on ‘warm’ and making the bell ding. If you put in way too much water the rice will split, just as it would in a regular ol’ pot on the stove. The simplicity of a rice cooker comes from its calibration – you put in four measures of rice, you fill to the four line, and you’ve got just the right amount of boiling time for white rice. If you’re doing brown rice, you’ll want to add more water or it’ll come out a little curnchy.

DD

I like using those Zatarain rice mixes, gumbo or dirty rice, adding a sliced-up sausage and a package of frozen vegetables. About as effortless as cooking a full meal gets.